The 3 Things Your Contracts Might Be Missing
Contracts are like bodyguards for your dreams.
They act as a barrier between your business and anything that might, intentionally or accidentally, try to put a dent in all your hard work and hustle. Most often, we tend to feel like if we sign something, we’re going to get screwed over. Even if we trust the other party, we instinctively distrust the complicated document that stands between us, usually because we don’t fully understand what it has to say.
In reality, a good contract is one that keeps everyone safe. Protection is a contract’s number one job.
At their core, contracts can serve to protect the three Rs of your business: Relationships, Revenue, and Reputation.
Contracts put clear boundaries in place before there’s a chance for disagreement or misunderstanding to muddy the water. Your business relationships are safer for both you and your client when you live inside those boundaries.
If you’re working for friends…. you still need to send a contract. (Yes, we know, it feels weird.) But with a contract in place, the situation no longer has the potential to become “my word against yours” because the agreed-upon terms speak louder than either person’s individual voice.
If you’re working with friends… you still need to send a contract. (Yes, we know, it seems like overkill.) Spelling out who’s paying for what, what each person is doing, where things are being published, how and when people will be credited, etc. can be the best way to manage everyone’s expectations and make sure you’re all on the same page and happy (and still friends) when the job is done.
Not only do things get easier with a contract spelling it all out (i.e., putting boundaries in place), but you can 100% count on getting paid for the job without worrying about “what-ifs.”
If you’re a graphic designer… include a licensing clause in your contract. That way if a client pays for a logo on a cocktail napkin but then uses it all over their wedding backdrops, menus, and favors, you have grounds to issue a licensing fee for the additional use.
If you’re a florist/stylist/baker.... make sure your contracts clearly communicate when work is due, when payment is due, and how much. Your bride wouldn’t be able to wear her wedding dress before paying for it, so why would you provide your flowers/decor/cake before you’ve been paid.
We all know the damage that hear-say can do to a growing business. Strong contractual boundaries shore up every client relationship with a safety net to keep you out of the messy black hole of missed expectations. Luckily, hear-say works both ways. When you navigate client relationships well, word gets around.
If you’re a wedding planner… if your client chooses to ignore your recommendation to put down a deposit for a tent in case of bad weather, make sure you have a clause acknowledging your client disregarded your advice. That way you’re not blamed when their guests are soaking wet, fleeing the wedding.
If you’re a photographer or a stylist… you might want to consider adding an artistic release to your contract. This clause basically requires your client to acknowledge that they are hiring you to do your work, in your style, and they shouldn’t expect it to end up looking exactly like that image they found on Pinterest.
If you’re a calligrapher or stationery artist…. you might want a clause to cover yourself should a client wish to use a paper type or printer outside of your recommendations.
If you’re a florist… you can’t always control the quality of product you receive. Make sure you give yourself the freedom to do your best work with the best product you can get your hands on. This means including a clause about making reasonable substitutes as required.
If you’re ready to step up your contract game (and make the rest of your business legit, too), we’ve got you covered.